OK, this is what it was like here in Boston, Mass, over the last weekend. It’s been bleeping hot, and because I have English genes I really, really don’t do well in the heat. It’s 93 in the shade, and all anyone in my household is doing is sweating.
We don’t have any AC going on because it’s been a really long, cold spring and the ACs are all tucked away in their little winter home in the laundry room, and those of us who have the time to get them into the windows have dodgy or scrawny backs (i.e., my mother, me, and my 10-year-old), and those of us who have the back strength don’t have the time (The Other Responsible Adult In The House, abbreviated as TORAITH) or the inclination (my two teenagers). So everyone in my house is sweating and miserable.
On Sunday, after three horrendous days of steamy heat, I had the chance to go see a movie with friends. This was a highly acclaimed movie that combined two of my favorite things: 1) it had a literary premise so I could feel virtuous about spending my money, and 2) it was set in New York City, a place I adore. But more importantly, it was a movie with . . . sigh . . . air conditioning, because going to a movie in the summer in America is really all about the air conditioning.
But before I headed out for the movie, I had to take my 18-year-old daughter to the AT&T store to get her a new iPhone 5, which is part graduation present and part replacing her old iPhone 4 which she recently dropped.
In purchasing the new phone, I had to provide ID, which meant showing my driver’s license to the store employee. Which is the point at which he told me that it had expired. On my birthday. And before you start Facebooking me to wish me Happy Birthday, I have to tell you that my birthday was in February, so I’ve been driving illegally for four months.
This situation was made far worse because my 18-year-old is on the brink of getting her driver’s license at the same time that her mother has been driving on an expired license. Not exactly good modeling behavior on my part.
So I slunk home and had TORAITH take over for me at the AT&T store with an up-to-date driver’s license.
I immediately got online and filled in the form for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, hoping that I could get something saying that I could legally drive to the movie an hour-and-a-half hence. After I answered some questions, the form told me that because I had no felonies, misdemeanors, unpaid parking tickets, or moving violations, and because I was just such a generally wonderful person, I could apply online instead of having to actually go to an RMV office. All I’d have to do was print out my online preliminary new driver’s license and I’d be on my way to the movie and its air conditioned comfort.
But then, my payment using my credit card didn’t go through. Then the second card didn’t go through. By this time, TORAITH had returned home, so I used her credit card. Then that one didn’t go through though it had worked satisfactorily at the AT&T store just half an hour earlier.
So here I was, with a statement from the RMV saying that I was eligible to get my new driver’s license online, but my payment had been refused on three credit cards that I knew to be completely okay. So I figured out that the RMV’s payment system must be on the blink. But I was still okay, wasn’t I? They said I was eligible, so that must mean legal, right?
I could almost feel the cool air of the movie theatre wafting over me and the hairs on my arms lifting in the cool cool breeze.
And, as the friends I was going to meet asked me: What are the chances I’d get into an accident driving to and from the movie, when I’d never had an accident in my entire driving experience?
The answer: none. Or almost none. And I had the print-out saying I was eligible to renew online which had to count for something.
“Just go!” chimed in my soon-to-be-licensed driver who’s heard multiple lectures from me about the need for insurance and obeying the rules of the road. “It’s their mistake that their website won’t take your card.”
Well, yeeeeeeessssssss. But . . .
So: should I stay or should I go?
There are so, so many things I’ve given up since having my three kids, and here I’m not just talking about sleep, money, and sanity. I’m talking about all those things I did to model good behavior to my kids.
o PK (pre-kids), the words “f*** a duck” used to roll off my tongue for major and minor pains and disappointments and believe me, it helped whatever pain I was feeling.
No more. AK–after kids–I became so good at not swearing that I’d managed to convince my two older kids up until they were 8 and 10 that the “F” word was “fart” and the “S” word was “shut up.”
o When I went out PK, I used to have several drinks over the course of an evening.
Now, I never have more than one beer or glass of wine, and that’s over the course of several days or even a week or else my kids start telling me that I’m an alcoholic.
o When I needed a good old pity party PK, I’d run a hot bath and sink into it with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge ice cream and People magazine, preferably with (insert a sigh of longing here) Brad Pitt on the cover.
o And I never, ever, ate broccoli PK.
Now, AK, those little green “trees” as I’ve learned to call them, frequently pass my lips although I find them as disgusting as I did before having kids.
But in terms of this movie: I’ve already given up so much. Can’t I just have this one thing–a really great movie in air-conditioned, ice-cold comfort?
The opening credits were starting in 45 minutes, and I had a 30-minute-drive to get there. I had to go.
But then my daughter said, “Who cares about their stupid rules, anyway?”
Clearly, this thing of modeling good behavior hasn’t worked out as well as I would have liked. But I can’t give up modeling good behavior now, in front of this about-to-be-newly-minted driver.
I called my friends and told them that I couldn’t go. Waves of disappointment spread over my hot, sweaty body as I thought of the hours ahead in our steamy house.
This modeling good behavior, although a useful thing, was for the birds.
And I couldn’t even say, “f*** a duck”!
What pleasures of your life have you given up in order to model “good behavior” to your kids?